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Charlene’s Desert-Themed Nursery

When we moved into our two-bedroom New York City apartment two years ago from Baltimore, we had it all figured out... Or so we thought. Arthur, our then 8-months-old son, would inherit the smallest room in our new apartment, and his Baltimore nursery would remain virtually intact. It would have the same decor, the same furniture, the same mood. After all, it looked great in our Baltimore house, so why would we want to change things up?

Although Arthur’s new Brooklyn room felt sort of “off” from the get-go, we were so attached to the universe we had created for him that we never considered switching things around. That is, until I got pregnant with baby number 2.

Having to make space for a whole new person was unnerving, especially in an apartment where space was at a premium. Could we possibly make it all fit? More importantly, we needed to put together a nursery that would cater to both a toddler and a baby, a room that would be playful, comfortable and stylish all at once.

That’s when we realized we had a great opportunity at our fingertips: to practice the intricate art of living a well-designed life… with kids. We dove headfirst into a serious nursery revamp and, with the help of our friend and design guru Sarah Bean, created an environment where everyone could truly feel at home.

1. Making Space

The first step to this new venture was to make room for all of baby’s essentials. So in good small-space dweller fashion, we Marie Kondo-ed the hell out of our apartment. Sadly, it wasn’t enough -- Arthur’s small bedroom simply couldn't fit an extra crib, let alone baby’s gazillion onesies, swaddles and diapers. We had to think outside the box… ahem, the room -- that is, to concede the master bedroom (and the awesome luxury of having a master bathroom) to our kids. Eager to get to the actual redesign, we quickly made the switch, and low and behold, it was one of the best decisions we've ever made. The once-upon-a-time parental room was big enough not only to fit all nursery necessities (including a wide chaise where the whole family can sink into for story time), but also to serve its newest, tiniest tenants’ needs and let them sleep, play, dance and (hopefully) build long-lasting, bonding memories.

2. Choosing a Theme

Then came the daunting task of choosing a theme and selecting the decor accordingly. We knew we wanted our sons’ shared bedroom to feel personal and familiar, to convey a little more about us and, in doing so, to lend us joy. Southern California is where my grandmother once lived; where I met my now husband, Teddy; and where he and I lived for the bigger part of our relationship. And though we love the life that we have forged here, in New York City, both Teddy and I still consider Los Angeles to be our second home. So a California desert theme came to us quite naturally. With it, we thought, comes a laidback, sunny vibe full of happy memories and fun opportunities to let our little ones’ imaginations run wild.

3. The Focal Points

Anewall’s cacti wallpaper was the first piece we agreed on. It’s now the focal point of the room and really brings the theme to life. The West Elm dresser, which also serves as our changing table and clothing storage, showcases six eclectic wood finishes and makes for an artful statement that complements the wallpaper perfectly. The bellabloomkids mobile, which we customized with walnut, natural, black and white tones, hangs pretty in front of the cacti and is sure to bring wonders to baby brother’s slumber.

The white Babyletto crib and Oeuf toddler bed both convey a minimalism that is bright and airy and that gives the illusion of a bigger space. All the white furniture is also a great canvas to highlight all the vibrant and colorful accessories in the room; and the striped fitted sheets add texture without upstaging the geometrical rug, the bohemian and tribal pillows and Arthur’s favorite plush toys.

4. The Details

More than being playful and true to the theme, the art around the room tells Arthur’s story. The Fennec fox watercolor print, which my friend and founder of My Cute Ones drew, illustrates his transition out of his old fox-filled nursery and into the new desert room he will soon share with his brother. The Palm Spring dino art is both an ode to California and a hint at his obsession with T-Rexes. The family pictures were all taken in California, where Arthur has already vacationed a bunch of times. The three square prints that we taped by his bed are some of his favorites and, we hope, will provide him with comfort and joy while he falls asleep.

Because we have limited space, the nursery also houses all of the toys and Arthur’s most prized treasures. But we wanted the decor to encourage our children’s interests without feeling like the whole room has devolved into a tacky mess. With that in mind, you can find Arthur’s dearest playthings (like part of his dinosaur collection and is Tegu blocks) in the spotlight, making independent play as organic as possible and cleanup as easy as can be. His favorite books are also within his reach, and most of the musical instruments -- from the egg shakers to the djembe to the wooden frog percussion that Teddy got from the Claremont music store where we met -- are at floor level and accessible, even to an adventurous crawler.

This nursery revamp was a monster of a project. It took me months to find all the creative bits that not only spoke to us, but also that I needed to build a kid zone where play and style collide.

I know that life is unpredictable and that our needs will likely change sooner than I think, making the design of this room (and of my entire apartment) a work perpetually in progress. But for now, the system that we have in place works; and I hope it can foster a happy backdrop to help our boys figure each other out as they start their lives as big brother and baby brother.

Here's where to get all of Charlene's nursery finds:

Cactus wallpaper: Anewall

Crib: Babyletto

Dresser: West Elm

Toddler bed: Oeuf

Toy storage: Oeuf

Acrylic bookcase: Land of Nod

Chaise: Ikea

Mid-century rack: Home of The Brave

Mattresses: Newton

Rug: Anthropologie

Camp nightlight: Land of Nod

Mobile: Bellabloomkids

Bison print: The Animal Shop

Palm Spring dino photo: Urban Outfitters

Fennec Fox watercolor print: My Cute Ones

Cactus drawing: Minted

Canvas art: Urban Outfitters

Framed family pictures: Framebridge

Square photos: Artifact Uprising

Cactus tape: Paper Source

Crib sheets: Land of Nod

Changing pad cover: Land of Nod

Changing station pint: Petit Pehr

Swaddle blankets: Little Unicorn

Musical instruments (djembe, egg shakers): Norman & Jules

Wooden Frog: Folk Music Center

Indigo pillows: Boho Pillows

African mudcloth pillows: Maewoven

Cactus pillow: Norman & Jules

Chaise mid-century feet: Etsy, Forge Hardware Studio

Linen throw: Caroline Z Hurley

Plush Animals: Jelly Cat

Styling by Sarah Bean.

Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

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Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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